Having hosted the Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting at The University of Warwick between 11-15 July 2022, we speak to Dr David Brown, Chair of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) as he shares his reflections of the week.
So David, What was it like to host the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting at Warwick this year?
It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. The last week before the conference was incredibly stressful as we pulled all of the pieces together, but as soon as the check-in opened on Sunday and we started the drinks reception there was a buzz about the place that made it all worthwhile. Being able to facilitate so many colleagues coming together to discuss science for a week, many of them for the first time in years, was such a great feeling.
What was your favourite highlight of the week?
It was the little things that really made my week. The person who was able to catch up with someone they’d not seen since their student days. The final year PhD student who was at their very first in-person conference and really enjoying it. The people who weren’t sure if they would be able to come after all, but who were able to make it for their talks at the end of the week and were so excited to present their work. But I think most of all it was being able to give people who couldn’t travel to us, for whatever reason, the ability to still participate in the conference and showing that a truly hybrid meeting is possible and can be done well.
What left you feeling inspired?
The JWST images that were released were impressive, but it was only when I saw the direct comparison to Hubble that I realised the enormity of the step forward that had been made - as someone working on a different space mission, that was really inspiring. The first time that I saw SUN in full display was also amazing. I walked in to the Butterworth Hall, then just sat down in the middle of the floor to stare at it.
But I think what was most inspiring was the response of colleagues to the conference. We were overwhelmed by the number of people that wanted to come, and by the widespread positive reactions to the conference.
A big thank you to...
The whole local organising committee (LOC) who put so much work into making NAM a success; the scientific organising committee (SOC), in particular Dr Elizabeth Stanway, the SOC chair, who really went above and beyond; all of the volunteers who helped us at the desk, ran microphones in the plenaries, and generally helped out all week. Also to the RAS for their belief in the conference, and their support throughout.